Whew. This is crazy to be writing. I can’t believe it’s only been 6 weeks since my last State of the Bug post. It’s been a little over 2 months since Graham’s autism diagnosis and about 5 weeks since he started therapy. Over that time he went from 14 hours to about 25 hours per week with three therapists.
I decided in March to start tracking the Bug’s progress monthly so we could record and appreciate how he’s doing. If you’re new to the blog, I will have some notes for last month to show a contrast from the last post.
So, let’s see where he’s at, shall we?
Still no real words….a couple more almost-words. There’s “gwa” or “qua” which appears to approximate “quack”….The vast majority of his communication, as always, is to whine or cry when he wants something and not stop until he’s received whatever particular thing it is.
Words! We have words! I’d say he has three sets of words:
Favorites: Train, Truck. He uses these nearly all the time. He will often use “truck” as a substitute for pretty much anything else, which I believe is pretty normal for early language development.
Working on it: Bus, Light, Doggy, Mama, Dada, Cookie, Show, Ball. We get these sometimes, he’s making progress with them. Pronunciation can be iffy, especially with “light” and “doggy.”
Occasional: April (nanny’s name), More, numerous others I can’t remember that he’s only said once or twice.
Huge improvement. Not only that but he babbles almost constantly. He even makes little nonsense sentences where he changes his vocal inflection.
The whining/crying doesn’t happen much anymore. When it does it’s usually related to food. We’ve got to find a system to figure out what he wants to eat.
Not only does he point at actual things he wants to draw your attention to, but he’s started to look at whatever we point to.He pushes or pulls my legs to send me to certain parts of the house. He pulls on my arm when he wants my attention. He pats my legs to sit on my lap.
He hands me a bowl he wants refilled.
Perhaps the biggest improvement is that he waves.
We’ve actually had a decrease in non-verbal communication because we don’t need it so much. Still lots of pointing and waving. But less pushing and pulling me around the house.
He’s also FINALLY started to attempt signing. He’s been taught it for months but it just starting to get it. He has done plenty of good “more” signs and every now and then we get an “all done” out of him.
I guess his new PECS book should fall in non-verbal communication as well. PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System and it’s been part of his ABA. (I’m planning a post on that soon.) Basically he has a little binder filled with pictures of things he uses. Train, truck, drink, television, bubbles, etc. He gives us the picture of the thing he wants. This also helps to have him initiate communication instead of us having to ask him questions all the time.
The Bug LOVES it when you imitate him, usually with facial expressions. There’s the famous nose scrunch. He sticks out his tongue. He makes funny faces. He covers his ears with his hands. You are expected to do the same.
Imitating has gone a long way. He isn’t playing the faces game anymore. Because he will now imitate/repeat words.
His therapists are working on getting him to blow raspberries as a way to get him to work on his mouth muscles and since it’s something he’d be unlikely to figure out on his own so we know he’s imitating us.
A lot of his ABA involves imitating and he’s picking it up really quick.
This has stayed pretty stable, but it was in really good shape last month. Builds rapport with new adults very well. Doesn’t run away from kids. It’s going great. In fact, it’s something I no longer have the slightest concern about.
I suppose handholding would go in this category. For the last couple weeks he’s let me hold his hand. It’s amazing! I don’t have to use the stroller constantly. This weekend when I ran errands he walked from store to store with me. We were a little slow, but it went really well. He used to pull his hand away or get angry.
Stairs remain a challenge….His fine motor skills are frustrating to him.
Some progress here. He’s more willing to try stairs holding your hand. He’s also been willing to practice going up and down. If there’s only one step, he no longer crawls up and down it.
Fine motor is doing great. He’s not getting so frustrated. In fact, he can hook up his new train all by himself.
Better. Raisins are back. He’s practically living on the fruit/veggie pouches. He’s started up the occasional hot dog again. It’s taking less time to figure out what he wants, but could still use work.
He can use a spoon AND a fork. He may still make a mess, but holy cow.
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Somewhere that first week or two something changed. Some veil was lifted. He figured something out. He is, simply, not the same baby. We call him Graham 2.0. He gets cranky, as many toddlers do, but his tantrums are less severe and last a shorter time. He pulls out of them easily. He doesn’t get stuck in cycles of frustration and anger. He screams less.
He wakes up in a good mood. He plays in his crib in the morning instead of crying until we get him. He smiles when I come into the room. He talks and points and gets excited. It is, simply, unbelievable.
Every time someone comes over he gets excited. And since his therapists are coming in and out all day, that means he gets very excited.
And have I mentioned “give?” This comes up a lot in his therapy so he’s now a champ. Whether he’s holding his favorite toy or something he’s not supposed to have, if you hold out your hand and say “give” he will give it to you, even if he doesn’t want to. Love. It.
He is still our Grammer. He still gets restless. We tried going out for dinner last week and it was surprisingly successful. He did get antsy once he decided he was done, but Eric and I both got to finish our food. Shocking.
He’s not quite ready for public outings that are not kid oriented or don’t involve shopping carts. But he can handle those things quite well.
This is one of the things I’d like to wean him from, especially since he often doesn’t even watch, but just checks in on it from time to time.
It’s done, y’all. What’s missing from my previous mentions of the Bug’s TV habit is that it turned into a major crutch. I kept it on a lot of the time because it was the only reliable way to pull him out of a funk. And he had lots of funks. I was worried about quitting it.
But after a few days of therapy, the nanny weaned him off it in one day. He’s so engaged with it, so excited about it, he just doesn’t need it.
That isn’t to say I don’t turn on the TV sometimes after work. Yes, I let him watch a train cartoon after work sometimes. But he points to the remote! And says train! And points to the show he wants on the Netflix screen! And snuggles with me on the couch! Surely I can be forgiven for such a thing.
So if you couldn’t tell, the Bug is doing AMAZING. We’re really thrilled and excited to see how things go. Sure, he’s communicating like a child nearly a year younger than he is, but he IS communicating. And talking. A month ago we didn’t know if he’d ever be verbal and now we watch him pick up words faster than signs. We didn’t know if therapy would help at all. But it has. The relief in our house and the excitement is palpable.
We were told the first 6 months of therapy were the most important at his age. Now we’ve got 5 months to go and I can’t wait to see where we’re at then.